If the metaverse is to have a future, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg recognizes that it will face several hurdles, including convincing people to invest their time and money in it. “People who believe in it more than others own the future,” he remarked.
On Tuesday, Zuckerberg spoke via video at SXSW with Daymond John, the founder, and CEO of Fubu and one of the sharks on ABC’s Shark Tank.
He discussed several difficulties facing the metaverse, roughly described as a digital world (or worlds) built on the internet and will be a place to interact, work, and shop using technologies such as smartphones, VR headsets, and AR glasses.
One of them, he claims, is being aware that the technology being developed now will improve with time.
Zuckerberg also discussed the need to create avatars that people can relate to, and that accurately represent them, not just in terms of skin color and physical type, but also in terms of wheelchairs and hearing aids.
“‘Do I see myself in this?’ is the question. Is this a location where I’d want to put my money?’ “he stated
The answer is unmistakably yes for Zuckerberg. So much so that in October, the business he established, Facebook, changed its name to Meta. At the time, Zuckerberg remarked at the Facebook Connect event, “This is the next phase of our work, and, we believe, for the internet broadly.”
He stated again at SXSW that he feels the metaverse would be the most significant aspect of what Meta accomplishes.
There is still a long way to go before these digital worlds become useful or even mainstream. In February, during Mobile World Congress, Zuckerberg discussed how the metaverse would necessitate networking infrastructure that can sustain the technology as it evolves and how this will require collaboration with various partners.
At SXSW, he touched on how individuals should be able to move digital products they’ve purchased from one digital location to another, such as a sweater for an avatar.
“It’s not very beneficial for customers to buy apparel in one game or experience and then be unable to utilize it in another,” he explained. “As a result, they may not buy as many items, resulting in a smaller creative economy for everyone.”
Though it wasn’t mentioned at SXSW, Meta will have to deal with an old problem in a new digital form: virtual reality harassment.
Zuckerberg also went over a laundry list of engineering issues being worked on, comparing Meta’s Oculus unit’s Quest headset to the original iPhone as an early milestone.
He began his SXSW session by expressing his discomfort with discussing future technologies in the middle of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia suspended access to Facebook and Instagram (both owned by Meta) after they cracked down on disinformation concerning the Ukraine conflict.
“We have teams working throughout the organization to ensure that our services are available and that users can stay connected during this period,” he explained. “I want to make it clear right now. I just wanted to express my solidarity with everyone in Ukraine.”